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Satnews Daily
October 3rd, 2011

Japan... Positioning Independence (GPS)

Artistic rendition of Japanese quasi-zenith satellite.
[SatNews] It appears as though the next nation to engage in a GPS constellation is Japan...

The country is planning to establish a network of four satellites in the latter half of the 2010s to improve the accuracy of the global positioning system in Japan, government officials have saidy. In the future, Japan will set up a network of seven such satellites, called quasi-zenith satellites, for its own GPS system independent from the U.S. system, the officials said. A Japanese government ministerial council comprising the entire Cabinet and headed by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda took the decision at a meeting today. The ministers also decided to give up a plan to establish a space agency in the immediate future and instead agreed to make the Cabinet Office the center of space development policies, the officials said, adding that funds of 4.1 billion yen will be sought in the fiscal 2012 national budget for the purpose. At least three quasi-zenith satellites are necessary for stable signals to car navigation systems because a single satellite flies above Japan for only eight hours a day. Four such satellites are required to operate the GPS system on a steady basis, the officials said. Japan needs to launch seven such satellites to set up its own GPS system as Japan's GPS services currently depend on U.S. satellites. On September 11, 2010, Japan launched its first quasi-zenith satellite, named "Michibiki", meaning guiding, from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.